Becky Garrison, senior editor of The Wittenburg Door and all-around cool Christian writer, wrote a review of The Nativity Story and some thoughts on her experience at a pre-screening complete with a pitch for selling the movie. Find it here.
Beloved and I also attended a pre-screening, one week ago today, to be precise. We were invited by the local movieplex. They gave us free popcorn & soda (minor whine: why is it that the free stuff comes in tiny little cups - do they order them just for freebies?) and pointed us in the direction of the theater showing the movie. Afterwards, the manager told us there were posters, trailer DVDs and other stuff up front if we wanted them - but we weren't pressured to take them, nor did I ever get the feeling that this was more than a local theater owner giving us a chance to check out the movie before our people asked us if they should bring their families or not. It was nice, actually, and I appreciated the gesture.
On the whole, I thought the movie was great. Outside of the strange accents (I don't even know what an Aramaic accent would sound like, but I'll bet it doesn't sound like the Queen's English), I felt like the director/producers captured the feel of the times. I especially appreciated the depiction of the perilous environment into which Christ was born. 21st century Americans have no way of understanding the danger of living under foreign occupation; this movie captured that danger and made us understand that Jesus was born in fragile times. God-with-us meant that God became fragile and dependent; in Jesus the Creator of the world needed to be sheltered from that very same world. It's a remarkable thing to consider, and the movie made me think of it in a new way. No one movie/book/illustration can ever capture the wonder of the birth of Christ - and maybe that's a good thing.